tv Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 19, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EST
organization that does is try to defend the islamic world. one of the things we have been successful doing is highlighting the fact that al qaeda's principal victims are muslims. but as i said, the question of popularity as a long-term question which has to do with trends in the middle east, trends in the is really, palestinian conflict. -- they need to recruit 19 individuals who are willing to create mass murder for perverted political version of a religion. that is the version of counter- terrorism.
we have to realize that some parts of the swamp and not susceptible to being dried up. >> bruce and i disagree a little bit on the view of calcutta and their mission. brigitte alcaide. rigid al-qaida. it is important again broader acceptance and the muslim world. some of the documents came out of abbottabad that they felt isolated and history was passing them by. they did not have the kind of message that was going to attract the supporters they want who would ultimately help them create. i have some sympathy for the perspective of birth because
terrorist groups have people who are addicted to violence and maybe don't spend a lot of time thinking about how they become a broader movement. for bin laden and others, that has always been an important thing. but and it probably enjoy the romance of isolation as well. to is a complicated picture and they feel they need to win ground. and have a broader and the public. the overall trend toward unpopularity is a good one and buy a ticket is good from the perspective of counterterrorism. ultimately, it is communities on the front line that are going to play a decisive role in terms of picking up the phone and
saying there is a guy you're doing something that we don't like. we find this across a wide an array of different societies. we encourage that resilience in our own community. we have seen at built extensively in saudi arabia in their efforts to deal with extremism. i think the popularity issue is a significant one. i would not ever confuse it with how people feel about us. it is a very different thing.
>> in many places, we want friends. i have a three-part question -- what can we do to encourage a resolution or force a resolution to end the conflict? how likely is it we can do this successfully? what are the continued benefits of we succeed? >> i will ask bruce to begin. >> the israeli-palestinian conflict is extraordinarily difficult to sell. i have spent an inordinate
amount of my life with israelis and palestinians trying to reason together and cannot claim any measure of success. that said, i think where we are today is substantially different than where we have been in the past. we know the contours' of agreement between israel and palestine. president clinton laid them out 12 years ago. there has been a lot of work since then. the question then becomes, what are we prepared to do to make that happen? that is a question of political will. there are huge obstacles on both sides. the forces of peace in the israeli camp and the palestinian camp have been on the defense for the last several years, likely to continue to be on the defense, if there is no serious effort to do something about it.
the question of political will comes down to a question of how important is it? i will answer it this way -- if we do nothing about this, the next generation of americans will look back and say what were they thinking. they knew this drove terrorism. they knew this was the driving force behind so much extremism. they knew how many americans and others have died and knew how many israelis and palestinians have died. they knew what misery it produced. they chose to do nothing or to do the least. president obama made a very powerful and compelling speech on sunday night. much of that speech could be made about the israeli-palestinian conflict. we know the price. we know what is at stake. it is a question of political will.
do we have that political will? it will not be easy. there is a difference today from when the last great effort was made in the waning days of the clinton administration. at least we know where we want to go. it helps the lot if you know what the destination is. >> it is not an issue i really want to say an awful lot about. i think bruce and i disagree a little bit on the role that the israeli-palestinian conflict plays in motivating violent extremists in many disparate parts of the world. there is no question that the narrative makes good use of this conflict as an example of western domination, colonialism
and the like. if you look in yemen and north africa and southeast asia where people have strong feelings about the conflict, still, you would find, if you had enough social sciences, that that was not what was attracting people to terror. the reason i think that is important is that it is vitally necessary that we continue to pursue all the things we are doing in counter-terrorism, what ever happens to the peace process. i think there is an awful lot of containment, management, and to ammunition of the threat to that we can achieve -- dimunition of the threat regardless of what happens between the israelis and palestinians. we all have concerns about security in that region but i don't think that ought to
condition our counter is -- our counter-terrorism policies. >> you mentioned the global counter-terrorism forum. this organization is on the goal of reducing vulnerability for people everywhere. too violent extremism. is israel still excluded from this or are there plans to include them in the future? >> this issue was on the agenda in the abu dhabi and the group has agreed that the co- chairs put forward a proposal must disagree on israel but how non- members are engaged by the gctf
in the future. different parts of the organization were embracing different practices. we strongly believe that israel has an important contribution to be made in the group activities. we have certainly spoken at length to the israelis about it. we simply will continue working this issue and hope we get a pat -- positive outcome on it. i should add to that, setting aside the issue of involving gctf activities, we believe the activities of the group are benefiting everyone's security in a very material way. there are stronger legal institutions and better efforts and that has to be in everyone's interest. >> thank you very much.
>> ambassador benjamin, i am concerned about your statement that there is a local connection to expand. i would suggest to you that you publish your evidence as soon as you can so we can take care of that. that task force which is basically intelligence work can use your information. we don't have any information so if you could provide us, we would be able to make sure that african interests remain. >> all the information will be publicly available.
>> there is a lot of information that cannot be made public but i would point out that the un mission in nigeria was bombed by boko-haram. >> thank you very much. i work for the voice of america. you know much about pakistan. in comparison to the last 15 years, how much the relationship between the pakistani-based military organization, especially those in power, they are in bed with al qaeda or others? one of the pakistani federal
ministers said the islamic -- they have relations with the extremist organization there. he has provided whatever evidence he has. there was also talk from the pakistani officials [inaudible] in your comparison, do you see the relationship being broken? >> that is a big question. i will try to be very brief. the connections between various to extremist groups in pakistan and al qaeda remained deep. as i suggested, i think mumbai plot, if carefully studied,
underscores those connections. i think we have seen it in other instances. people tend to give away their real feelings in moments of grief. for the jihad to groups in pakistan, the death of been great.xpressed his it is hard to say they don't have a connection in moments of the eulogy when they are terribly sorry to see him go. sct has led the effort, as i understand it, in this government to try to broaden our approach to dealing with terrorism in pakistan away from a narrow al-qaeda focus and to put some of these other groups on the agenda for the first
time. the leadership is much more on the agenda of the american counter-terrorism community today than it was four years ago. from where i sit outside the government, i think the state department deserves 99% of the credit for making that happen. >> we certainly have tried to put l.e.t on the agenda in a significant way. one big item of the agenda going forward is undoubtedly going to be militants a more broadly in pakistan. al-qaeda is on a path to be deep
but there is an awful lot of extremism -- -- al-qaeda is on a path to be defeated but there is an awful lot of extremism. we have a number of other groups that are quite potent and dangerous. they should not escape attention and we will need to raise the level of discourse on them and see what we can do to help pakistan deal with them. bruce made some remarks about pakistan before. i would only add that it is still the case that more extremists have been taken off the street by pakistan than anywhere else. while is a difficult relationship, with lots of ups and downs, there has also been successes in the counter- terrorism relationship. it is a challenging relationship but an essential one.
>> thank you. with apologies, we are out of time. i would like to offer my thanks to ambassador benjamin for some of his closing remarks and his service in government and for the excellent job he has done while he has been with the state department. those who follow counter- terrorism closely know he can with significant challenges and our country is better off to his service. thank you to our speakers and thank you all very much for coming. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> coming up next, senator from connecticut talk about the shooting in newtown, conn.. on [video clip] that comes journal" up at 7:00.
a senate panel looks at credit reports in consumers access in home loans and other consumer products. that is live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on cspan 3. the secretary of state william byrnes will testify this week about the september 11 attacks on the u.s. mission in benghazi, libya. that is live thursday at 1:00 p.m. eastern on cspan 3. the two connecticut u.s. senators talked about last week's school shootings in newtown, conn.. this is 40 minutes. >> mr. president, we appear to be in one of those periods of time where we are working too often through the valley of the shadow of death. senator blumenthal and i've come to the floor to speak about the
tragedy that occurred, the senseless horrific attacks on innocent people in newtown, conn.. last friday. we must also note with extraordinary respect and sense of loss the death of our truly beloved colleague, senator dan inouye of hawaii. america, as senator reid and senator durbin made so car, america has lost a true hero, a patriot. this senate has lost a great leader, a leader whose accomplishments have been literally historic, and i think all of us have lost a friend. last evening, senator akaka spoke about how dan inouye's legacy, i'm paraphrasing here, was all aund hawi and all he
had done for the state. the truth is that i think mt every state in the country is full of legacies of the service of dan inouye. i know it's true of connecticut. it really was my honor to serve for 24 years with dan inouye here. his -- he was exactly the opposite of all the caricature pictures people have of congress today, and particularly about the rabid ptisanship and personal uncivillity. dan was a great gentleman, and the most civil of people, the kindest and most decent of people. and as senator reid said, a proud democrat, a faithful democrat, but not at all partisan. the relationship that he had wi the late ted stevens on the
appropriations committee was historicnd can actually inspirational. they were so different ostensibly background, temperament, particularly. ted stevens, blessed memory was my neighbor and dear friend. let's say he had a -- well, how do i describe it? he was a very emotional perso danny inouye was more calm. but they formed this remarkable friendship based on shared history going back to world war ii, probably some sense of shared destiny in the sense they were both from the two last states to join the union, not part of the continental united states, came as the first senators and were here so long but really what united them is an enormous dedication t
america, patriotism. and when i said that dan inouye's leag is in connecticut and -- legacy is in connecticut and probably most every other state, i could go around the state and i'm thinking of the years and years danny was the chairman of the appropriations committee and the defense appropriations committee. there wasn't anything that we were able to do for connecticut in that time he didn't support. protecting long island sound, the connecticut river, improving our transportation stems systems, making gras to our schools, colleges, and universities, support of the defense industries in connecticut, which have meant so much to the defense of our country but also to the economy of our state. so i salute his memory. all of us should honor it, and try in our own way to emulate this great man. mr. president, senator blumenthal and i come to the floor today to thank our
colleagues for adopting by unanimous consent last night s.r., senate resolution 621 which is the exactly mirrored to in the words of house resolution 833 condemning the attacks that occurred in newtown, connecticut last friday and expressing sorrow to all those affect by those attacks. we're still in shock in connecticut. all of us who know this little town as america's come to know it, 27,000, 28,000 people, beautiful town, hard-working people who worked their way to get there, tight families, very religious, very much involved in the life of the community, peaceful, and out of nowhere -- and this tragically is the point and the warning comes this one deranged individual with guns and
slaughters 26 innocents, breaking our hearts with 20 of those being young children. i'm sureverybody now fee as if they are parof the family of those who were killed. you look at the faces of those children, pure, innocent, and i think of the words of one of the clergy men at the interfaith service, these are angels and they're with the angels in heaven now. the work, the response of the first responders, and the trauma that they have gone through to face what they had to face and the carnage that they wiessed there and yet you talk to some of them and they're guilty that they didn't get there earlier and couldn't have stopped it somehow. of course, they did more than we could ask of anybody. they ran to the danger.
the principal, the teachers, i mean the stories that come out about the heroism. i remember long ago somebody i heard speak said the definition of courage is grace under pressure. pressure is not really even the word here. it's grace in a moment of terror. the single-mindedness and grace of the principal, the teachers who acted in a way that put their own lives on the line to protect the lives of the children. and let us speak the truth, there were hundreds more children in that building that could have been targets of this madman. so we are wounded, but i will tell you -- and america is wounded, the world is wounded. one of the priests said to me at the other night at the service he was so touched he had received a bundle of letters from schoolchildren in russia. and it reminded me that there
was an incident in russia years ago where a gunman went into a schoolhouse and wantonly killed children and the monsignor was so touched by it, but that's the way this event has touched the world. i will tell you that this is a strong town, and you can feel the people of this community pulling together to support the survivors and thinking about how they can rebuild the town and its spirit. the first selectwoman said so pointedly the other night at the interfaith service that we will not allow this event to define newtown, connecticut, and they will not. but the families of those who have been lost have been changed forever. and it's in that regard that i particularly want to thank my colleagues for this resolution of condolence and support. i want to thank my colleague,
senator reid, for the moment of silence yesterday in this chamber. in my faith tradition, when you visit a house of mourning, one of the customs is for the visitor to sitilently with the mourners. d it's very awkward. it's actually not the natural thing we want to do but this adition has come about because one, as an act of respect to the mourners because they may be in their own mourning internally. but the other, really -- and we want to allow them to speak first if thept to speak. but -- they want to speak. but the other is in the face of death and particularly the senseless, brutal deaths of these 26 in newtown, sometimes the best response is silencend all that the silence contains.
so i thank my colleague, senator reid, for that moment of silence. senator blumenthal and i and our coecticut congressional delegation convened a vigil last night in which we all spoke and father con roy, the chaplain of the house offered prayer, chaplain black could not be there because he was at senator inouye's bedside with his family. we thank all of you who came last night. your presence metropolitan a lot to us, meant a -- meant a lot to the people back home in newtown. and now the question is, mr. president, can we do anything to stop this from happening again? even once, but hopefully more often. can we -- what can we do? and i understand that as the president said -- incidentally, the president's visit to newtown was so comforting to the families and
all of the town or all of the people of connecticut. he broug comfort, and i will say he brought resolve, which was very moving and insring to everyone there. and as he sd, these situations are always complicated and we can always say as we look at all the possible causes of such a tragedy that, well, even if we did something about that, even if we banned all guns, there would still be violence or even if we provided better mental health treatment, there would still be people who would break through and commit acts of violence and even if we removed all the stimuli to violence in our entertainment culture, still people would commit these acts. of course that's true. but do we not have the capacity to intervene at the different
points in the story of this young man to -- to stop this from happening, at least once again, and probably more - many more times? of course we have that capacity. i keep taking back, as people say human nature is violence. of course, there is violence. that goes back to the beginning of recorded history. we remember that the two children of adam and eve, cain killed abel in a terribly violen act. but i think we also have to be instruct by what happened after that when god speaks to cain and says where is your brother? and cain feigns ignorance and asks the question that echoes through the millennia since then, am i my brother's keer? and god says to cn in
genesis, what have you done? you can hear in our mind -- our minds' ears the voice of god god in anger, what have you done? you've killed your brother, you have killed my creation. and then god says your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. and i think in that the bible instctss, the words of god instruct us that we are our brother's keepers, we are our sister's keepers, and we are most of all our children's keepers. and that we can never say o, people are just violent and turn away. we have the capacity, particularly we here honored, privileged to serve in the senate, serve in the house, serve in the white house to do something about this. somebody said to me, as the president said the other night, if we save just one child's life by what we do, it will have been
worth it. we can save a lot more than one child if we work together on is. i've talked to people since friday who have said to me why will this be any different? nothing happened after columbine or aurora or virginia tech or any of the other acts of mass violence in our society. i don't blame people for being skeptical. that's the truth. we should have acted earlier. i proposed with senator mccain, senator byrd, senator jack reed, a bunch of others the creation of a national commission on violence three weeks after columbine in 1999, and it passed the senate but it was -- it didn't make it through the house in conference committee. so i understand why people are skeptical, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't hear the cries of those children as the guns of
that madman turned on them and actually see their blood on the ground of that -- the floor of that schoolhouse until we get something done. we can -- we can prevent this from happening to people again. we can certainly prevent it from happening to some people. i see signs of hope around us, people, colleagues who have been protectors of gun rights saying in the last few days this has got to change, we have got to come together and reason together and act together, and everything has to be on the table including our gun laws. there was a poll in "the washington post" today, it was very striking to note that for the first time when people have been askedhis question after -- and they have been asked it after a series of acts of mass violence, columbine, virginia tech, et cetera,
aurora, do you think that this was an isolated act or does it say something about more troubling conditions in our society? i'm paraphrasing. for the first time. every other time people said it was an isolated act of a madman or mad people. this time they said it reflects a deeper problem in our society, and i believe what causes that change is that 20 of the victims in newtown, connecticut, were young children, and there is not only a heartbreak across our country about this, not only anger, but i think there is guilt, and we all ought to feel guilty because as a society what the attacks in newtown said to us is that we have failed to fulfill what would seem to be our most natural, natural law,
if you will, responsibility, which is to protect the safety and lives of our children. so i hope we will act. there will be no better tribute, no better source of sons layings to the families that have lost loved ones. i have proposed a commission as i did in 1999 because the are complicated questions. in almost every one of these acts of mass violence, you have a young man troubled, clearin, in hindsight. family, friends, schoolmates say something was wrong with him. very often -- and i have heard rumors about this being the case with adam lanza and newtown. i don't know for sure, so i'm not saying it is any more than a rumor. very often, these young men have had an almost hypnotic involvement in some form of violence in our entertainment
culture, particularly violent video games, and then they obtain guns and they go out and become not just troubled young men but mass murders -- mass murderers. to try to intervene, particularly at the beginning with the troubled young man, and get him or if it's a woman her help quickly to make sure that ou mental health system is there torotect and offer that help and perhaps that our insurance system, health insurance is there to guarantee that payment will be made for that is complicated. the impact of the entertainment culture complicated as well. obviously, not every young person who plays a violent video game becomes a killer. i know because i have spent a lot of time looking at the social science on this, and it goes back decades that there is a very clear pattern here where young people who are involved in
violence in the entertainment culture are more aggressive. thank god, of course, almost none of them become murderers, but some of them do and we have got to ask why. and then of course we need to strengthen our gun laws. i hope that either by executive action or leglative action, we will convene such a commission. but, mr. president, i want to make very clear i am not offering this idea as a substitute for any aion that we can take now, any action that the president can take now, for instance, with regard to the existing laws that are aimed at preventing people who shouldn't have guns from having them, keeping guns that really are military and are not part of hunting or sports shooting off the market. anything the president can do, anything congress can do. now, i would support a restoration of the assault ban today. these are wpons developed by
our military originally, not by private industry for hunting or sport shooting purposes. they shouldn't be sold. we have got the background checks in the brady bill. if you attempt to buy a gun from a licensed federal firearms dealer, why shouldn't that exist for people who would buy a gun at a gun show, where incidentally terrorists we know have bought guns. so anything we can do quickly we ought to do. but i also think that a commission will make sure that we won let the anger, the hurt, the guilt that we feel now dissipate with time or as a result of legislative gridlock. yes, legislative gridlock again. remember lincoln's words at gettysburg, that these dead shall not have died in vain. i think that should be our
animating emotion and sense of purpose here as refleed and i think led by the president's very powerful words in newtown on sunday night. i remember after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 all the work that we did here in washington to create the department of homeland security, the 9/11 commission, the legislation to pass the legislation implementing the 9/11 commission, a lot of work, bipartisan work was done here in congress and the executive branch to make those laws and to keep us a lot safer to prevent another 9/11 from happening, but i will tell you this, mr. president, and my belief that i was at the center of all of this, those laws would not have been passed and enacted and we wouldn't be safer today if it were not for the extraordinary
commitment of the families of people who were killed on 9/11 to get involved. they -- they talked truth to power. when members of congress and members of the executive branch were reluctant to act and were falling back in all political ways, self-defensive ways, those families faced them face to face , and they turned -- some in power turned their faces away because they couldn't take it, but ultimately those families brought about action. these families in newtown have lost people, loved ones, children will never be the same. i hope and pray that they can come back to some semblance of normalcy. i hope that some of them will have the courage and the strength which really will take an enormous amount to get involved in forcing our country to do whatever it can to stop
anything like this from happening again, but in a larger sense, we're all members of the family. this is the american family. those 26 people, those 20 children were our children, our family members, and it's incumbent on us now to summon not just the remorse and the guilt but the will to act to stop this from happening again and to save the lives of -- of our family members. i thank the chair, and i yield the flooro my colleague and friend from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i thank my colleague from connecticut for those very moving and important comments on the floor at this profoundly
significant time in the history of our state and our nation. i want to join my colleagues here who have expressed their admiration for senator inouye and our sense of loss at his passing. i admired him deeply as a patriot, a war fighter, a plic seant who was unstinting and unwavering in his commitment to our constitution, the principles of equality and justice and our national defense, and his loss is really a loss for the country but particularly personally for all of us who serve in this body i knew him less well than colleagues who have spoken eloquently like senators reid and durbin and boxer and lieberman, and one of my regrets as i stand here is that i did
not have the time to know him better because he was such an extraordinary human being and perhaps one of the lessons for me personally is that time is short, as we all know,nd we should make a greater effort in this body and among us in this profession to know our colleagues and to tasure their friendship. i want to thank my colleague from connecticut also for his very perceptive and powerful words on the tragedy in newtown, connectit, which brings me to the floor today with such a heavy heart. i thank my colleagues who have reached out to me, including the senator from vermont, a great friend, senators klobuchar and durbin and bennet and so many others seeking to help connecticut and the collegiality
of this body has been brought home to me in these days when others have sought to provide not only consolation but also suggestions for action. and one of my reasons for being on the floor today is to talk about action that we can take, and i want the families who are grieving now to know that my standing here to talk about policy and action in no way means any disrespect or effort to intrude on their grieving and emotional rebuilding. but we know on friday a tragedy befell the community of newtown, connecticut, and that tragedy is expressed in senate resolution 621 and house resolution 833. i than my colleagues in both houses for condemning the attack
and offering their condolences to the people of connecticut and more imptantly the people and families who suffered these losses most directly. i hav spent the last four days or a better part of them in connecticut. those three days are a time that i don't want to relive ever. i first learned about this incident on friday morning in the midst of a normal day. i had events scheduled. i heard that there was something wrong in the danbury area. as the details mounted, i left hartford to goo newtown and to the firehouse in sandy hook. i arrived there as a public official, but what i saw was through the eyes of a parent. the firehouse in sandy hook was where parents went to find out if tir children were okay. the way they found out was that
their children appeared or they didn't, and after a while, some of the children came, some were reunited with their parents there or at the school, and their parents took them home, and others did not. i will live forever wit the sights and sounds of those parents as they emerged from the firehouse. the cries and sobbing, the cries of grief and anguish, the lo on those faces. the murder -- murderer blasted his sayway no the elementary school in sandy hook armed with a bushmaster a return 15, a 10-millimeter gridlock missile and a 9-millimeter and a
multiple magazines filled with ten, 15, 30 rounds, hundreds of rounds that he used in an execution-style massacre. wayne carver, who is the state medical examiner for connecticut, has been in that job for more than 30 years. he has seen it all. but he has said he's seen nothing like this ever. 20 small bodies ripped apart, executed, en masse. so there's no question that evil came to newtown, as governor molloy said that day. evil came in its starkest, most inhumane terms. but her roix -- heroism also came to newtown. the s.w.a.t. teams that went into that building actually saved lives. they saved hundreds of lives of
students and staff in the school because the murderer took his own life when he knew they were entering. there is the heroism, of course, of the principal and teachers and others who ran toward the sound of gunfire. they ran toward danger to protect their children. children who were 6 and 7, their faces now on the front pages of newspapers, their stories inside. the heroism of the state troopers who had to confirm the identities of the victims for their families and stayed with those families throughout the weekend. the heroism of the community itself. newtown is, indeed, a quintessential new england town. everybody virtually everybody
knows everybody else, which is a good thing. but in a way, also, a bad thing. because everyone's children knew the other children. at the vigil sunday night, two of the children who attend that school came up to me to show me some of the necklaces they have made with blue beads, 20 of men and women, 20 blue beads, each one for a child, a victim. and six stars for the adults. this community is not only intessentially new england, it is squint essentially american in its strength, its resiliency and caring and courage. part of what has inspired newtown is the outpouring of support that they have received from all across america and all across the world. so never doubt that the messages you have sent, the thoughts and
prayers have made a difference to them. they truly is. newtown is a call for national reflection and for coming together. this tragedy hit connecticut, but the town of newtown is supported by the grief shared by all americans. but it's also a call for action. it's the right time to ask what we can do to stop this sort of tragedy. in recent years, there have been horrific shootings at virginia tech, in aurora, in oak ridge, on university campuses, in movie theaters, in places of worship and many other places where unsuspecting americans going about their everyday lives had those lives cut srt in a few minutes of slaughter. in newtown, a lone gunman was able toill 20 elementary school children ranging from 6
to 7 years old. he killed the school's principal and the school's psychologist and four teachers. sadly, there have always been and there always will be mentally ill people, mentally deranged or hateful people who want to lash out violently at the worldnd we will never be able to stopll of them from doing harm. but even if we cannot prevent all of these tragedies, w must not surrender and say we will do nothing to prevent any of them. in the last few days, everywhere i've gone in newtown people have come up to me and said the same words over and over, we have to do something. we have to do something. and people in law enforcement, families of victims, members of the clergy, again and again have said tse words, we have
to do something. and so that is my commitment the today. to do something, in fact, to do everything i can as a senator to press and prevent the nt tragedy. as a former law enforcement official and as a father, i cannot do less. there's no single law, no simple solution that will be a cure-all but there are sound, seible steps we can take involving, some of them, new laws, some involving better enforcement ofxisting laws, our local and state police, for example, and federal agencies need more resources and support. we need to do something to effectively ban asawptd -- assault weapons. i'm talking about weapons that are designed for killing and maiming human beings, often as many as possible, as fast as possle. weapons that are civilian
versions of military weapons. there's no reason that any such weapon should be for sale today in america. we need to do something to ban high-capacity magazines, also involved in this mass murder. whateal hunter uses or needs 30-round clips? what self-defense situation is served by them? we need to do something to prevent mentally ill people and criminals from having firearms. i don't know whether better laws could have prevented the shooter in newtown from get his hands on the weapons he used, but we must look at what we can do to identify such people with serious mental problems befor it's too late and provide interventionnd treatment, and take those weapons out of their hands. to date, the national instant criminal background check system
has prevented nearly 1.8 million attempted purchases of firearms by mentally ill people or criminals. clearly, that alone was not enough to prevent a number of tragic shootings. but i think we can all agree that it's good those sales were not completed. and right now, only 60% of gun sales involve a background check. we should ensure that all firearm sales involve a background check, including guns that are not sold by licensed dealers, and that those checks, wherever they're done, are thorough and comprehensive. nothing here means that we should trample on the second amendment. the supreme court has spoken clearly in the heller case that law-abiding americans have constitutional rights to own
firearms, whether for self-protection, hunting, competitive shooting, or any other proper purpose. that is now the law. but the supreme court has also made clear that the government can appropriately impose sensible regulation, just ast can in many other areas of constitutional rights, on how firearms are used and purchased. and everyone would agree that criminals and deranged people should not be able to get their hands on firearms. on all of these issues, we have to look for sensible common ground, rooted in common sense. and bieve there is room for people of good will to work together to find it. even as i say that, i am mindful that issue involving the second amendment rights and violence have in the past fueled
ep passions, suspicions and passions have run deep and wide on both sides of this debate, including in this chamber, and there's a lot of distrust to overcome. i am here today to keep faith with the people of newtown who have grabbed my arm and said we have to do something, and that is my commitment. i will rk with the president and my colleagues in the senate regardless of party or geography i will work withny organization that's willing to engage in a thoughtful, constructive discussion about what steps to take to avoid tragedies like t newtown shootings in the future. i'll work to find a solution to this crisis because it is a crisis, d i will be deterred by any organization or campaign that uses scare tactics or intimidation because there was nothing more frightening, nothing more horrifying than looking into the eyes of the parents who came out of that
firehouse in sandy hook who lost their babies last friday. that is any parent's worst nightmare. i know there are some who say we can never do anything about the problem of gun violence, that we are entrenched as a nation and so polarized as a political interested we'll continue to wring our hands at every massacre and never take action. and yet sometimes events happen that soar whoify our country and our fellow citizens that they change the nature of the discussion. they change the political ground under us. they are a tectonic shift and i believe the massacre of these innocent children and their loving teachers in newtown is exactly such an event. yesterday some of my senate colleagues had the courage to join this call for action and say publicly that we cannot go on as before, and i want thank
particularly senators manchin and warner. their heroic stance is indeed a challenge to every other member of the senate to join in this common effort to find common ground and at long last do something to stop the killing. i also want to thank particularly senator reid, our majority leader, for his leadership in calling for a meaningful and thoughtful debate on gun violence. have to do something. we have to do something. we have to do something. that is what people in newtown have beseeched me over and over. i believe the american people agree. this is our moment, and we are the people to do it, and we can. i ask each of my colleagues to listen to those voices and to
>> the house is in this morning at 10:00 eastern. one of the measures that will work on today is identity theft prevention of medicare and social security. live coverage here on c-span. on c-span 2, the senate will continue work on additional funding for the damage caused by hurricane sandy. they expect more tributes to senator daniel and a white who died on monday. on c-span 3, a senate hearing on the fairness and accuracy of consumer credit reports. you can see live coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern. in 45 minutes, we will talk with congressman tim murphy of pennsylvania and congresswomen grace napolitano of california about mental health services. in one hour, 45 minutes, a discussion on school security and emergency planni.